Tributes For Legendary Mandhalpuyngu Actor And Elder David Dalaithngu Are Pouring In

The Mandhalpuyngu actor, famous for roles in 'The Tracker' and 'Rabbit-Proof Fence', has passed away at 68 after a battle with cancer.


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Mandhalpuyngu actor and elder David Dalaithngu has passed away at 68 after a prolonged battle with lung cancer.

— Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are warned that the following article contains the images of those who have passed. — 

The news of Dalaithngu’s passing was broken by South Australia Premier Steven Marshall. Marshall tweeted on Monday night, “It is with deep sadness that I share the passing of an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen. My thoughts are with his family, and his dear friend and carer Mary Hood. Vale.”

Tributes are still pouring in from all over the continent and around the world. Dalaithngu’s family have given permission for his photo to be used, asking that he be known as David Dalaithngu in death in accordance with traditional Yolngu bereavement practices.

David Dalaithngu was a titan of Australian cinema, shaping and paving the way for Blakfella representation on the silver screen until his death. Known internationally for his role in Crocodile Dundee, Dalaithngu shot to fame as a teenager in 1971 when he played a lone youth walking the outback as a rite of passage in Walkabout. His final role was in the 2019 film Storm Boy.

Other Australian actors have already paid tribute to Dalaithngu. Hugh Jackman who worked with Dalaithngu in 2008’s Australia wrote on Instagram, “…from his cheeky laugh, to that mischievous glint in his eye and effortless ease in front of the camera … His humanity is irreplaceable.”  Guy Pierce, who worked with Dalaithngu on 2006 film The Proposition wrote on Twitter, “Rest In Peace beautiful man. Your spirit shall reverberate in me, and us all, forever.”

International Film institutions and publications such as the Criterion Collection, Letterboxd, MUBI and The Hollywood Reporter have also posted tributes. David Dalaithngu is survived by his family and long-time carer Mary Hood. Read some of the tributes below.

Vale, Uncle David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu.


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